The Truth about Golda (or What Golda Knew)

By Yigal Kipnis

This is a partial translation of a commentary that appeared in Haaretz (Hebrew Edition) September 21, 2023

……At the end of December 1973, two months after the October War, Prime Minister Golda Meir was reelected. Three months later, she chose to step down. Golda Meir recognized her failure and direct responsibility for the circumstances that led to the Yom Kippur War. She knew what most of her cabinet members and the investigative Agranat Commission did not know, or perhaps didn’t want to know…  She knew what the public did not know (and there are those who still work to ensure it remains in the dark today): that her demand to annex about a third of the Sinai Peninsula prevented Henry Kissinger from advancing an initiative for peace between Israel and Egypt and declaring its principles by September 1, 1973.  

Golda also knew that after the first day of the war, Sadat offered to stop the fighting and initiate a diplomatic process, and Israel refused, despite the fact that, contrary to the prevailing perception, Israel was in a relatively strong position at that point. Golda was explicitly told by her Defense Minister, Moshe Dayan,  “We don’t need to initiate a ceasefire. But if there is one, we won’t regret it.” Golda also knew that her decision to delay mobilizing the reserves caused the IDF to lose its strategic opening advantage in the war and led to confusion in the military’s and government’s decision-making.